|Mahdi Obeidi, the author of a new book, "The Bomb in My Garden: The Secrets of Saddam's Nuclear Mastermind." has a lot to say in an op-ed piece in The New York Times (use Bug Me Not to bypass registering).
What was really going [on] in Iraq before the American invasion last year? Iraq's nuclear weapons program was on the threshold of success before the 1991 invasion of Kuwait - there is no doubt in my mind that we could have produced dozens of nuclear weapons within a few years
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By 1998, when Saddam Hussein evicted the weapons inspectors from Iraq, all that was left was the dangerous knowledge of hundreds of scientists and the blueprints and prototype parts for the centrifuge, which I had buried under a tree in my garden.
Was Iraq a potential threat to the United States and the world? Threat is always a matter of perception, but our nuclear program could have been reinstituted at the snap of Saddam Hussein's fingers. The sanctions and the lucrative oil-for-food program had served as powerful deterrents, but world events - like Iran's current efforts to step up its nuclear ambitions - might well have changed the situation.
Iraqi scientists had the knowledge and the designs needed to jumpstart the program if necessary. And there is no question that we could have done so very quickly. In the late 1980's, we put together the most efficient covert nuclear program the world has ever seen. In about three years, we gained the ability to enrich uranium and nearly become a nuclear threat; we built an effective centrifuge from scratch, even though we started with no knowledge of centrifuge technology. Had Saddam Hussein ordered it and the world looked the other way, we might have shaved months if not years off our previous efforts.
Hundreds of my former staff members and fellow scientists possess knowledge that could be useful to a rogue nation eager for a covert nuclear weapons program. The vast majority are technicians who, like the rest of us, care first about their families and their livelihoods.
Scary indeed. I know someone is going to say he's a lying bastard or he's just making it all up. Whatever, if you're so delusional that you don't think a dictator would not want the best weapons he could have in order to be able to thumb his nose at all other countries then you're living in a cave.
If I was a dictator, I would want nukes. What better way to get people out of your face and threaten them enough to leave you alone? Conventional weapons, while cool and useful, just don't have the kick in the ass that having nukes do.
The scary thing about all of this is the rogue scientists who have apparently capitalized on their knowledge by possibly going to Syria and Iran for the big money. What other choice do they have? They have the option of the U.S. I guess, but you have to assume that some of these scientists may not like the U.S. morally, or haven't been given the option.
You really can't spin this one on Bush, it's entirely the U.N.'s fault for not following up hardcore enough after the first gulf war and just sitting on its hands for a dozen years. I'm sure someone will try though.
Hat tip: Allah Is In The House
On The Borderline is talking about it as well.
Blogs For Bush
See my next entry for some late breaking news on where the Iraqi Scientists trotted off too.